The State of Things

Image of Meredith Sawyer, early childhood educator in Greensboro who earns less than a living wage
Duke Center for Documentary Studies

An estimated 20 percent of North Carolinians earn less than a "living wage."

Advocates refer to that term as the household income needed to cover housing, food, child care, healthcare, transportation, taxes and other necessities.

A new interactive video exhibit from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University tells the stories of these workers and explores the options for new policies that might help them. 

An image of Yaba Blay
Sabriya Simon

Growing up in New Orleans, Yaba Blay saw firsthand the different roles one navigates as an African-American. At home, she had to adjust to the Ghanaian culture of her parents, but outside the house, her dark skin set her apart from New Orleans' light-skinned Creole community.

A picture of lights on a police car.
Alejandro Mejía Greene/JubiloHaku / Flickr Creative Commons

The Wake County District Attorney says the preliminary autopsy report for Akiel Denkins shows that he was shot four times; once in the chest, once in each arm, and once in the right shoulder. 

Denkins, who is black, was shot and killed by Raleigh Police Officer D.C. Twiddy, who is white, on Monday. Police say Twiddy pursued Denkins on foot, they struggled, and Denkins drew a gun before Twiddy fired his own weapon. 

The reports conflict with initial statements from eyewitnesses, which claimed that police shot Denkins several times in the back as he was running away.

The Aedes aegypti mosquito is known as the primary carrier of the Zika virus.
U.S. Department of Agriculture

The Wake County Health Department confirmed another case of the Zika virus this week.

It is the fifth confirmed case in North Carolina since the outbreak in Brazil. But scientists here say differences in mosquito species, climate and lifestyle make it much more difficult for the virus to spread. 

Host Frank Stasio talks with Michael Reiskind, entomology professor at North Carolina State University, about why he thinks a Zika outbreak in North Carolina is not likely.

Image of prison cells
Chris Miller / Flickr Creative Commons

More than 3,000 individuals are currently incarcerated on death row. And the headlines are filled with the details of the crimes they committed and their journeys in the criminal justice system.

But what do we know about their lives, both before their sentencing and after their incarcerations? 

Kristen Abigail Collective

Castle Wild represents a new chapter in Chris Hendricks’ life. After the Chris Hendricks Band broke up several years ago, he looked for a new creative outlet and challenge in his life.

He reconnected with college friend Andre DiMuzio and formed Castle Wild. The music moved away from the rock pop of the Chris Hendricks Band to a cross between singer-songwriter and modern synth pop.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Hendricks and DiMuzio. Hendricks performs vocals and guitar and Andre DiMuzio is on vocals and keys.

A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrest.
Wikimedia Commons

Riverside high school senior Wildin David Guillen Acosta was headed to school on a typical morning in January when Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers detained him and took him into custody.

Acosta is being held in a facility in Georgia, awaiting deportation to his native Honduras. Acosta says he came to the United States to escape the ultimatum of a violent gang: join us or we will kill you.

John Feinstein's new book 'The Legends Club' looks at the friendship between Triangle basketball legends Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski and Jim Valvano.
Christine Bauch Feinstein

Sports rivalries around the globe are fierce. But perhaps none is as intense as the basketball rivalries between North Carolina State University, Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The longtime coaches of each of those institutions have legendary status for many in the Tar Heel State.

Image of police tape
Tony Webster / Flickr Creative Commons

Residents of southeast Raleigh are raising questions about the circumstances around a Raleigh officer fatally shooting 24-year-old Akiel Denkins.

Eyewitnesses say the white officer shot Denkins as he fled on foot. Police say the officer was trying to serve a warrant related to drug charges, and found a firearm near Denkins' body. Community members gathered last night for a march and vigil.  

Host Frank Stasio talks with WUNC reporter Jorge Valencia about the shooting and community response.

Image of voting booths
eyspahn / Flickr Creative Commons

The results from Super Tuesday are in and Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton are leading the pack. Early voting begins tomorrow in North Carolina and the primary is less than two weeks away.

Do Tuesday's results strengthen or weaken the state's impact on the race for the White House? 

Host Frank Stasio talks with Michael Bitzer, political science professor at Catawba College, about what the results from Super Tuesday mean for North Carolina.

AP IMAGE: A conference at UNC-Chapel Hill looks at Austrian composer Hanns Eisler and how he broadcast political messages through contemporary compositions.
Herbert K. White / Associated Press

Musicians have used their songs to filter political messages for decades, from Bob Dylan's song "Blowin' in the Wind" to Kendrick Lamar's song "Alright."

But in the early 1900s, Austrian composer Hanns Eisler was a pioneer in the way contemporary artists use political themes in their music. A conference at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill explores Eisler's work and his ability to subversively broadcast political messages through contemporary compositions.

Cities, counties and states across America are contemplating non-discrimination protections for transgender people. It would allow them to use the bathroom of their choice, but that has caused controversy.
Rusty Clark / Flickr Creative Commons

The transgender community has received greater visibility in pop culture with the stories of Laverne Cox and Caitlyn Jenner in recent years. And in North Carolina, the Charlotte City Council recently passed an ordinance to include non-discrimination protections for LGBT individuals.

But despite the progress, 2015 also saw a record number of murders of transgender people, specifically women of color.

Margaret Spellings on The State of Things
Charlie Shelton for WUNC

 

Four months after her controversial selection, Margaret Spellings takes the helm of the UNC system today. The former U.S. Secretary of Education faces a broad range of competing priorities.

The Board of Governors hired Spellings on the heels of the forced resignation of her predecessor Tom Ross. As the new leader of the system, she will address issues ranging from budget matters to concerns about academic freedom. 

Scene from Downrange: Voices from the Homefront
Cape Fear Regional Theatre

For families in the military, a life of service can mean long periods of separation. While service members put themselves on the front lines, spouses must sustain a commitment to their country to persevere on the homefront.

The new play, Downrange: Voices From The Homefront, showcases the stories of the ones who wait at home for their loved ones to return and the challenges they face when service members come home.

Movies on the Radio
Keith Weston / WUNC

From Citizen Kane to All The President's Men, the world of journalism has provided subject matter for the silver screen for decades.

Some plot lines resonate with viewers for their basis in real-life facts.  Others are popular for their dramatization of the newsroom or television studio.

The State of Things wants to hear from you. What is your favorite journalism-related movie and why? Did Spotlight deserve the Oscar for Best Picture? Is All The President's Men the gold standard? Is Anchorman one of the all-time greats?

Image of Shaw University President Tashni Dubroy
Terrence Jones / Shaw University

As a teenager in Jamaica, Tashni Dubroy struggled to understand chemistry. But after a breakthrough moment in her high school chemistry class, she fell in love with the science.

She moved to the United States to attend community college, and then to Raleigh to attend Shaw University.

Can Bernie Sanders use grassroots action to catch up to Hillary Clinton?
Phil Roeder / Flickr Creative Commons

Trump’s path to the White House looks more likely as he wins primaries in South Carolina and Nevada. Will Super Tuesday allow another GOP candidate to take the lead?

And will Bernie Sanders be able to leverage small donors and grassroots action against his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton?

Also, the four democrats who seek Richard Burr’s senate seat meet for a debate next week.

Host Frank Stasio talks with political junkie Ken Rudin about the latest in political news.

Image of Theodore Roosevelt
Library of Congress

The 2016 race for the White House is full of expectations from both sides of the aisle about the role of the 45th president. How has that office evolved? And what does history tell us about how presidents are judged?

Image of Mount Moriah
Lissa Gotwals

North Carolina-based band Mount Moriah has been together for almost a decade.

Their latest record 'How to Dance,' marks a turning point, as they focus less on personal identity and more on looking outward to examine how mythical and spiritual experiences have shaped their direction.

They recorded this album in home studios with the help of long-time collaborators and friends who have supported them along the way. 

Image of bathroom sign
The LEAF Project / Flickr Creative Commons

The Charlotte City Council passed an ordinance to include non-discrimination protections for the LGBT community.

Although the expanded protection includes a variety of changes, the most controversial measure allows transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice.

The city council voted 7-4 in favor of the ordinance expansion, but Governor Pat McCrory and other Republican legislators have indicated the state may intervene.

Image of Masked Tree Frog
Robin Moore

Frog populations around the world have been in decline for the past four decades.

And many scientists argue that more than birds and other mammals, frogs are the true “canary in the coal mine” because they are disappearing from seemingly pristine and protected areas.

An image of the Sklar brothers in front of North Carolina Public Radio
Charlie Shelton-Ormond / WUNC

After more than 20 years of stand-up comedy, identical twins Randy Sklar and Jason Sklar are ready to explore what lies beyond the stage in the places they perform.

In a new pilot with the Travel Channel, the brothers explore Raleigh and observe the area's idiosyncrasies. Each day they will construct stand-up material based on their observations and share it with a local audience. 

An image of Socars statues
Prayltno / Flickr Creative Commons

The Academy Awards are a time to celebrate the year's best in film, from the best in directing to costume design. But as movie stars like Leonardo DiCaprio and Cate Blanchett cross their fingers for a golden statue this year, many movies from 2015 remain overlooked by the Academy.

Photo: A camera pinned on a police uniform
cops.usdoj.gov

Police body cameras are slowly catching on in North Carolina as a way to hold both police and civilians accountable for their actions. But body cameras also raise questions about the privacy of the people they record.

Should that footage be public record? And will body cameras be the answer for communities that have lost trust in their police force?

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